The Second Vatican Council, begun in 1962 after years of planning and
nearly a century after Vatican I, was an attempt by the Catholic Church
to address some of the deeper spiritual questions posed by the rapid
social changes taking place in the 1960s brought on by technology,
secular ideologies, and the deep political divisions still reconciling
after the disastrous second world war and the escalating tensions of the
Cold War. Church attendance, on the rise throughout the world, began a
marked decline in Europe, the ancestral home of Catholicism, over the
subsequent years. Today we examine the reforms brought about by the
Ecumenical Council, the effects they had, a look forward to different
paths towards further reform or restoration.
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— Timeline —
– 1868, June 29th – First Vatican Council convoked by Pope Pious IX.
– 1869, December 6th – Beginning of the First Vatican Council
– 1870, Jul 19 – Outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, hampering the Vatican in completing the First Vatican Council
– 1891, May 15th – Pope Leo XIII issues ‘Rerum Novarum’ (On Capital and
Labor), reasserting Vatican economic positions on trade unions, wages,
private property, and finance.
– 1929, February 11 – Issuance of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 between the
Holy see and Kingdom of Italy, recognizing the Vatican as an independent
– 1929, October 29th – Black Tuesday, the recognized begnning of the Great Depression
– 1931, May 15th – Pope Pius XI issues Quadragesimo Anno (“In the 40th
Year”), affirming the Church’s positions on solidarity, subsidiarity,
– 1939-1945 – Outbreak and end of World War II, leaving tens of millions dead and Europe in ruins.
– 1955 – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s “The Phenomenon of Man” is
published, and deeply shunned by the Vatican hierarchy for heretical
– 1959, January 25th – Pope John XXIII announces his preference for an Ecumenical Council
– 1960, June 5th – Pope John XXIII issues “motu proprio Superno Dei nutu”, outlining preparatory measures for Vatican II
– 1960, June 6th – Ten preparatory commissions are created, led by Pope John XXIII
– 1960, July 9th – Quaestiones are sent to preparatory commissions.
– 1961, July – Commissions reconvene to review the schemata documents.
– 1961, December 25th – Pope John XXIII formally summons the Ecumenical Council in the Apostolic Constitution “Humanae salutis”.
– 1962, July 13 – Pope John XXIII sends the seven primary schemata to the participating bishops for review.
– 1962, October 20th – The Vatican Council issues a “Message to the
World” in which the Church affirms its solidarity with human rights and a
werewithall to conform to problems of modernity
– 1963, June 3rd – Pope John XXIII dies suddenly.
– 1963, June 21st – Cardinal Montini is elected as Pope, and as Pope Paul VI, he reconvenes the Vatican Council.
– 1963, December 4th – “Sacrosanctum concilium” (Constitution on the
Litury) and “Inter mirifica” (Decree on the means of Social
Communication) are issued.
— References —
– Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871)
– First Vatican Council [Vatican I] (1869-1870)
– Revarum Novarum (1891)
– Quadrgesimo Anno (1931)
– Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
– The Phenommenon of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1955)
– Pacem in Terris (1963, April 11)
– Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963, December 4th)
– Inter Mirifica (1963, December 4th)
– The Catholic Revolution: New Wine, Old Wineskins, and the Second Vatican Council, Andrew Greeley (2004)
– What Happened at Vatican II, John W. O’Malley, S.J. (2008)
– The Second Vatican Council – An Unwritten Story, Roberto De Mattei, Michael M. Miller
– Paster Aeternus
– Ineffabilis Deus
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